Procedures for Signing your Will

(This is an edited version of our Client Guide which provides general information and is made available to our clients to assist them to understand the requirements for signing a will. This is not intended to constitute legal advice, which by its nature is situation specific. If you have questions about a specific legal problem, you should consult a lawyer who will provide legal advice only after reviewing all the facts relevant to your situation before providing that advice, rather than relying on the general information provided in this Guide.)


1. Two witnesses must be present with the testator when the will is signed. Each should be in a position to see the other sign. Neither a beneficiary under the will nor a spouse or partner of a beneficiary should witness the will; if they do, the gift to the beneficiary is void. It is preferable that a person named as an executor not sign as a witness if the will makes any reference to executors' compensation.

2. The witnesses need not read the will.

 3. The testator should sign on the last page at the end of the will in his or her normal signature and complete the date in the paragraph preceding the signature.

4. The testator should then initial the lower right corner of each of the preceding pages of the will. If there is extra space on the second last page, the initials should be placed immediately after the text to prevent unauthorized additions.

5. Only one original copy of the will should be signed.

6. Each of the witnesses should then sign in a space provided on the last page of the will and initial the corner of each preceding page (or beside the testator’s initials on the second last page) while the testator and other witness are present. Each witness should also complete his or her address and occupation (to assist in finding the witness after your death if someone disputes your signature or the method of signing the will).

7. The original signed will should be returned to us for safekeeping. We will forward a true copy, on which the location of the signed original will be noted, to you to be kept where your executor can find it if when necessary. On your death, we will deliver the will to your executor.

8. If you prefer to keep the original will, make a photocopy which can be readily found on your death and put the original in a secure fireproof place. Note this place on the photocopy. Do not put it in your safety deposit box as your executor may not necessarily have access to your safety deposit box.

9. It is preferable that one of the witnesses immediately swear an affidavit of execution of the will before a commissioner for taking affidavits. The original executed will is made an exhibit to the affidavit and is held in safekeeping with the will. This will simplify obtaining probate or proving the executor's authority to deal with the estate assets following your death. The will does not take effect until you die.

10. Tell your executor the location of your will.

11. You should periodically review your will to ensure that it reflects your wishes in light of changes in your family responsibilities, financial circumstances, tax laws and your wishes to benefit others on your death.



Your will is an important document. Please contact us if you have any questions on how to properly sign it at:

W. Bruce Drake
Hooey · Remus
Telephone: (416) 362-2051
Facsimile: (416) 362-3646
Suite 1410, 120 Adelaide Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5H 1T1

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This page was originally created on September 5, 2000 and was last updated on September 22, 2011.
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